The Mainstreaming of Far-Right Extremism Online and How to Counter It: A Case Study on UK, US and French Elections

Full Reference:

Davey, Saltman and Birdwell (2018), “The Mainstreaming of Far-Right Extremism Online and How to Counter It: A Case Study on UK, US and French Elections” in Trumping the Mainstream: The Conquest of Democratic Politics by the Populist Radical Right, Herman & Muldoon (eds), (Routledge, London).

Abstract

This chapter analyses the scale and nature of online ‘information operations’ by ‘far-right’ and ‘extreme-right’ online activists across three elections: the 2016 UK Referendum on EU Membership, the 2016 US national elections and the 2017 French national elections. We define information operations as coordinated attempts to influence domestic or foreign political sentiment. By using online social listening tools, this chapter questions to what extent information operations were intensified or scaled up across these three elections; the extent to which efforts were coordinated internationally; and maps tactics used to ‘mainstream’ specific far-right ideologies targeted at average voters. The chapter concludes by analysing ways that governments, industries and civil society are tackling this challenge to various ends.

For more see the book Chapter 1!

Behind the Facade: Jobbik’s rebrand is bringing electoral success, but its true nature isn’t hard to track down

Originally Published by Policy Network 30 April 2015. Original linked here.

Earlier this month, a candidate for Hungary’s radical-right party, Jobbik, won a by-election for a vacant parliamentary seat in Tapolca, Hungary. Lajos Rig’s victory is not only a first for a far-right party in Hungary, but, notably, his win is the first time a newer party, not involved in Hungary’s first democratic elections in 1990, has acquired such a mandate. Onlookers now question whether Jobbik has truly shed its extremist past or simply taken on a new guise.

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Anti-Semitism in Hungary: New Voices for Old Narratives

Originally Published by TBFF 20 January 2015. Original linked here.

Hungary’s seemingly recent political move away from ‘liberal European values’, towards localised and nationalist politics has caused a great deal of international concern and speculation. Strong electoral support of the right-wing conservative nationalist party, Fidesz, and far-right party, Jobbik, has increased in recent years, with notable far-right support coming from youth voters. Alongside this new wave of far-right politics has been an increasing xenophobic, and in particular anti-Semitic and anti-Roma, political rhetoric.

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With the right support, community-led efforts to tackle extremism can succeed

Originally Published by Left Foot Forward 24 November 2014. Original linked here.

Many communities have already become active in addressing Ofsted’s concerns about far right and Islamist extremism. Last week, the media divulged a string of new Ofsted statements. They flagged up a number of secondary schools and sixth form colleges that are said to be vulnerable to radicalisation, or that have been reported as not adequately preparing children for ‘life in modern Britain’.

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How polar extremisms fuel and support each other

Originally Published by Open Democracy: 4 September 2014. Original linked here.

Groups hold similar roots of discontent, such as poverty, discrimination and the sense of values under threat, but manifest these sentiments in an array of diverse extremist ideologies with highly varied targeted ‘Others’.

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Hungary’s Election: Solidifying the Radical Right

Originally Published by Policy Network: 8 April 2014. Original linked here

Despite accusations of gerrymandering and campaign tampering, Fidesz won an overwhelming victory against the left-wing opposition, while one in five Hungarians voted for Jobbik, making it the strongest far-right party in the EU.

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The Rise of the Far Right: Engage or Isolate?

31 January 2014 – 08 February 2014 the European Voice held an online debate on the rise of the far right in Europe, questioning whether or not to engage or isolate these parties. The outcome and contributions to the debate can be found here. Below is my contribution to the debate in the Rebuttal Phase, arguing for critical engagement:

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